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Super Sentry or Crowd Sentry
illustration by Andrei Bulucea used with permission

Autonomous Vehicles

Ideal Sentry Mode Evolution: Super Sentry

An idea for Tesla’s Sentry Mode would be to make it crowdsourced, which could be called “Super Sentry” or “Crowd Sentry.”

An idea for Tesla’s Sentry Mode would be to make it crowdsourced, which could be called “Super Sentry” or “Crowd Sentry.” This idea comes from a Twitter user by the name of Andrei Bulucea who shared with me the story of his friend, Bogdan, whose Model 3 was broken into. Two other vehicles were also broken into at the same time The location of these incidents was the Pacific Commons Shopping Center in front of Gen Korean BBQ in Fremont — just near the Tesla Fremont Factory.

The Fremont Police Department responded to the incident with some gratitude — the officer responding was pleased to find out that the Model 3 was recording with Sentry Mode. It was emphasized to me that Officer Gonzales Cordero was very helpful and professional. Bogdan was able to provide the videos to the Fremont police and, hopefully, they will be used to track down the bad guys. It seems there are three people involved.

Unfortunately, there was another vehicle blocking the left repeater camera, so it was impossible to get a clear look at the license plate number. This is where Andrei’s idea comes in. Perhaps Tesla can create a Crowdsourced Sentry Mode called Super Sentry or Crowd Sentry that is specifically designed for situations such as this one.

Here is how it could work: 
  • First, cars must agree to join the Crowd Sentry mode, by sharing location in exchange for extra security. “I am here. Watch my back, please.”
  • Imagine a parking lot having one or two more Tesla vehicles in geo-proximity.
  • One of the Teslas enters Sentry mode.
  • Each Tesla will send a request to nearby Teslas: “Let’s form a Sentry Network.”
  • The other Teslas can respond with a Yes/No answer and act accordingly: Start recording, or if already in Sentry, acknowledge — “I got your back!”
  • Users receive notification: Crowd Sentry ON (along with a mini-map)

Side note: Crowd Sentry or Super Sentry can be implemented over the cloud or it can be even done in ad-hoc mode over BLE5 (Bluetooth) advertisements (100 foot range).

Imagine this scenario: there are fewer than 100 parked vehicles with two or three Teslas with Super Sentry amongst them. This is a total of 8 to 12 cameras pointed in various directions. There is no chance that this guy would ever elude the areas covered by these cameras. See the illustration below.

Super Sentry or Crowd Sentry

There are many challenges that need to be addressed when implementing this that could be related to privacy issues, but if Tesla can get around these challenges and do this in a way that wouldn’t violate any privacy, the incentives are very high. This can create an entirely new level of vehicle awareness by using distributed computing along with the power of people wanting to do civic good. In Andre’s opinion, this is something that many in the Tesla community would do — and I agree. I’ve seen how this community helps one another. This would be considered a type of community service that would aid police in catching the bad guys. It sounds very “cyber,” as Andrei puts it, but it’s already happening with Sentry Mode. Just imagine if Sentry Mode becomes a network of cameras in every parking lot.

A Few Things To Consider

One thing to consider is the power consumption while Sentry Mode is active. It is generally less than 250 watts per vehicle, or 1 mile an hour. Andrei thinks that maybe a network of 3–4 cars with 8 cameras each would be less than 1 kW total, and it would be a pretty clever ad-hoc solution for monitoring large parking lots.

Network usage, Andrei believes, would be at ultra-low levels. A simple message system could be set up, saying things such as “Johnna’s Cybertruck Joined CrowdSentry” (or Super Sentry, which I like better) or “Johnna’s Cybertruck left CrowdSentry at 5:30 PM.”

With this information in hand, and only if needed, a manual back-channel request can be made to my Tesla account to request (with my permission) the video from location X at a specific time. The police can also request information from that specific CrowdSentry location. I would see emails on my Tesla account such as “CrowdSentry retrieval request from the Baton Rouge PD, Officer so and so. Approve? [Yes or No].”

I, or whoever is being requested this access, could then look at the video and either approve it or reject the video sharing.

There are almost one million Tesla vehicles on the road right now. There are millions of cameras that have the potential to act as distributed security that could help catch criminals or prove that innocent people are in fact innocent if they find themselves in situations where they are accused of something they haven’t done.

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